According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States. It affects both men and women and is usually preventable if you get screened for it.
Colon polyps if left unchecked can turn into colon cancer and often there are no symptoms, this is why screening is essential. It is recommended that all people over the age of 50 get screened for colon cancer. If you have blood in your stool, abdominal pain or weight loss, you should get screened sooner.
Nutritional factors associated with an increased risk for colon cancer are diets heavy in red meat, low in fiber, low in calcium and low in vitamin D. (1)
So let’s get to what you can do nutritionally to prevent colon cancer.
- Eat fiber. Fiber is found in all plant based foods. Adult women should get 20-25 grams per day and men should be getting 30-38 grams of fiber per day. This is pretty easy if you include fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains in all your snacks and meals.
- Eat foods containing selenium, there is a host of information indicating that the trace element selenium can reduce colon cancer risk. (2) Good sources of selenium are: brazil nuts, organ meats, seafood, light meat from chicken, long-grain brown rice. (3)(4)
- Eat red meat in moderation. If it is your go to meat, start with a goal of switching it for seafood every other time you eat it, this will increase the selenium in your diet and cut back on the red meat.
- Include calcium rich food in your diet. Good sources are abundant in dairy and tofu. Caclium is also found in smaller amounts in broccoli, oranges, kale and pinto beans.
- Don’t smoke, period. It causes so much damage to the cells in the body.
- Maintain a healthy weight. This means, eat the right amount of calories for your body, from the healthy food sources listed above and exercise. If you are overweight, it may be beneficial to lose weight.
- Keep alcohol intake to the recommendations. 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. (5) But how much is in a drink anyway? And does it matter what type of alcohol? 12ounces of beer with an alcohol content of 5%, 8 ounces of malt liquor with an alcohol content of 7%, 5 ounces of wine with an alcohol content of 12%, 5 ounces of 80 proof hard alcohol with an alcohol content of 40%.